One of Aesop's Fables tells of a woman who brings a snake that has frozen in the cold back to her home. She makes it warm, and cares for it, only to have it bite her when it regains its strength. While dying from the snake's poisonous bite, the bewildered woman asks him how he could do such a thing after she had treated him so well and shown him so much kindness? The snake reminds her that he is a snake and that is what snakes do.
So many times, we want to try to "fix" people who don't want to be "fixed." It may just be in their nature to be the way that they are, even though we know they would be better off with our help. We can get into trouble when we give too much to those who have never asked for our help or who, having asked for it, are likely to take advantage of it.
Have you run into any snakes in your life? Have you allowed someone to take advantage of your kindness or sympathy, or have you shared your soul with someone not interested in your highest good? When we have doubts whether or not a relationship is truly reciprocal, that is the time to call upon our gifts of intuition and discernment to guide us. Here are three ways to decipher who in your life will possibly never change and how to deal with them:
1) Crossing Boundaries
Even if no boundaries have been set, per se, when you feel uncomfortable in a situation, then boundaries have been crossed. So many of us ignore our own needs for the sake of others' needs, and even when we say "yes" to someone, we are really screaming "No!" on the inside. Internalizing our discomfort when we feel an uneven exchange of energy is taking place, usually in order to keep the peace and please someone else, is not the constructive road to take. Being tolerant is important when dealing with others, but not if you are worse off for having done it.
We always have options. We always have the power to choose, and when we are respectful and speak from the heart, we are never wrong. Therefore, we can: express our discomfort and exclude ourselves, make necessary changes to a situation if possible, or accept things completely by considering the source and letting it go. The issue here is not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, but if we are, recognizing that we have choices and are never required to let someone else make those choices for us.
2) Use Discernment, Not Judgment
We have to be careful when we think someone needs to change that we are coming from a place of neutral observation and not a place of arrogance. We are never in a position to know what another person's path is or at what pace they are supposed to move along it. When we go past observing a person's true nature, whether it appeals to us or not, and begin deeming them unlikeable, unloveable, or unworthy of their right to be on the planet, we are judging, which is always cruel.
Being judgmental is a bad habit that does not contribute to anyone's happiness or joy. Judging is actually a demonstration of one's own lack of self-worth. This is not to say that someone has a funny hat on or is acting distastefully, because that is simple observation. However, complaining about someone's existence is not accepting them as a human being, and is an unconscious negative vibration that actually makes you the victim of their actions.
3) Power Over Others
There are those people who see life as a fight or competition to gain power or control over others. To them, this is the measure of success. When you come into contact with people like this, striving in life to serve themselves even at the expense of others, the best thing you can do is say to yourself, "He/She is a snake, and that is what snakes do."
On the other end of the spectrum, there sadly are many out there who truly feel they are not meant to go anywhere in life, that they are always meant to be on the losing end, and no matter what you do for them, it will never be enough to get them out of that negative mindset. Unfortunately, we all have known at least one person who has pulled us down and drained our energy, never taking responsibility for their own life. Again, you may have to step back and stop trying to be so accommodating to another's needs or wishes. There can come a time when you have to recognize that you're more committed to their growth and happiness than they are. And if they are truly committed to changing their life for the better, then they will be challenged to dig deep and rely upon their own resourcefulness...that will serve them more than anything you could possibly do for them.
Both scenarios: the "power over others" individual and the "perpetually powerless" individual may have to be viewed as simply a "different animal"... that how they are is part of their nature, and nothing you can change.
Just know that you hold the ability to feel when a person is crossing your boundaries in life, and that, that is the time to put your needs above theirs. Just be who you are and treat everyone along your path with dignity and respect. You will be freer and happier if you just let go and accept others for who they are and how they choose to be.